Vote Blue 2020

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Good Night, Charles

I'm getting to the end of the Charles Laughton biography, and like all posthumous biographies, things get a little bleak towards the end. Something always fails, (a gall bladder, a liver, a heart) or some strange accident or mishap occurs (Thomas Merton out of the shower, grabs a live wire). There is a great chapter in Joseph Heller's 'Catch 22,' where a character lists all the diseases that can kill. The character, (I don't remember his name) decides to stay in bed in order to prolong his life, believing that boredom means success.

Death always seems like a failure, although, it isn't. Death is an odd end to the story, but, it comes to everyone. The only person I can think of who truly seemed to welcome death, was the poet and artist William Blake. Little fiery, red-haired William was on his death-bed singing songs, looking forward to dancing with the angels, (the same angels he saw in his life) as the black curtain of death came over him.

Laughton on his deathbed remarked to a visitor, 'I don't think the director knows what he's doing.' Laughton was the actor, the gifted 'ham,' still performing as he went 'gently into that good night.'

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